Bo-Lo’Gne ボローニャ

Is it me or is baked dough getting more and more expensive? This is the first time I hear there’s a waiting list for a loaf of bread. Really. This is ridiculous, but true! Apparently if you put an order in today, your specially prepared loaf of bread will be ready in about 5-6 days. This phenomenon isn’t exactly news in Japan, where bread really is treated like a designer-slash-fashion item (as with most things in Japan). This is why it is also not surprising that this bakery I’m about to blog about is from – you guessed right – JAPAN! How boring.

But Japan really is making some quality dough, so much so that even a French graphic artist Jean Pierre Dardenne said: “Every time I go back to France, I’m surprised at how mediocre the bread tastes. Tokyo boulangeries have spoiled me.” Ouch. Japan: 5,185,714,371,483. France: 0.

Anyway, this pea-size of an exclusive bakery outlet is located on the slant of Aberdeen Street (between Caine Road and Stauton Street). Its been around for a month or 2 now?

Bo-Lo-Gne on Aberdeen Street

Bo-Lo-Gne on Aberdeen Street

Danish Pastry from Bo-Lo'Gne

Danish Pastry from Bo-Lo'Gne

MY GAWDNESS THIS DANISH BREAD IS SOOO DELICIOUSLY, FLAKELY, BUTTERY AND PASTRY-LY GOOD!!! I ❤ AND EMBRACE THIS BREAD LIKE NO OTHER!!! No. I refuse to describe this piece of bread like it was some culinary marvel and be all pretentious that there’s a big difference between pastry with 64 layers or 128 layers or whatever the magic number is. To me, its one more fold. And to me, its pastry … pastry from a bakery whose name I can’t even pronounce (if its Bologne, then yes, I can pronounce it. Not “Bo-Lo’Gne”. WTF. Kind of sounds like the music I make when I chunder.) Here are some more photos from OpenRice.

The truth is, this pastry is pretty good. Was it the best I’ve ever had? It’s definitely up there in the top 5 best pastry in my books. You can definitely tell they use quality ingredients and spent a lot of time folding (and “caring”, as pastry chef like to call it) the dough as they were preparing it. I do not doubt the passion and dedication they’ve put into making this a great pastry, but … I think there’s bad pastry and there’s good pastry. This is good pastry. End of story. I just don’t understand what the hype is about. Sorry.

Expensive? Yes! Worth it? Debatable. Will I go back, yes definitely. I think it’ll be a great breakfast to wake up to … also if you’re feeling dandily … Danish. HUR.

Here’s the intro to the bakery on their pamphlets and website homepage:

“A legend said that Bologne was the first person who caused the boom of Danish Bread in Japan. Being made in Kyoto, it became popular throughout the entire Japan country and is known as the magical bread. It is made by a unique skill so as to form a beautiful marble pattern, and to become crispy outside and soft inside. Its slightly moistened, sweet flavour is just like the taste of luxury cakes.”

Sugar: HK$18
Chocolate: HK$18
Blueberry: HK$20
Strawberry: HK$20
Marmalade: HK$20

August 26th Edit: I official retract some statements I made earlier. When I first blogged about this joint,  it was a typical case of “bashing it without trying it”-type of thing. So I finally tried the pastry loaf this morning, which took like 4 days from order to pickup. Its like a loaf of white bread, except its was a creamy pastry with hundreds of layers … creamy golden colored, not too buttery which I appreciate very much. I toasted it so that some of the buttery crust becomes slightly crunchy and then I added a fig jam spread. OMG, the best damn thing ever. So soft and chewy. I still think the Danish pastry isn’t much though 🙂 But the loaf is amazing. Must try.

Siu Yeh Rating: 9/10

Note: Photos taken with BlackBerry Curve 8900.

Bo-Lo’Gne ボローニャ
Shop 1, G/F., 41-49
Aberdeen Street, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2950 0600
Fax: +852 2950 0669
Website: www dot bolognehk dot com

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Marouche Grill on Elgin Street

So I had dinner at Marouche Grill, a new Lebanese restaurants on Elgin Street in Soho.

If you’re looking for a review on the food there, then I’m sorry to disappoint because I wasn’t really paying attention to the food so much as I was the company, which consisted of a small group of local foodies sharing experiences and stories about all things food. There was this one memorable dish that I would recommend though and it was the Mouhamara (its a little spicy .. just to give you a heads-up).

Anyway, the dinner was organized by Dorothy So from HK Magazine as she’s writing a piece on local food bloggers. Some stories will and should probably stay within the group (sorry!) but she’ll likely share some of the other more media-friendly stories with you in the August 28th (edit) late September publication. I’m not going to be the one to spoil the fun, so pick up a copy then.

If you’re looking for a write-up on Marouche Grill, you’ll probably find a better piece (not to mention better photos) written by much more experienced local food bloggers whom I had dined with. Check out Peter’s blog at 吃喝玩樂, Elvina’s blog here, or KC’s blog here.

(Note: At the time of writing this post, only Peter has written about Marouche Grill).

Thanks for organizing Dorothy and good luck with the article!

People of HK Soho Unite: BOYCOTT The Spot Bar

So last night, after a good workout at Pure (Kinwick), some friends and I decided to drop by a sports bar and watch the Federer-Monfils match of the French Opens. Unfortunately, only sports bar that offer Cable Television (not Now, since the former has the rights to broadcast the French Opens in Hong Kong) show the games.

But we stumbled across a packed crowd inside The Spot Bar in Soho on Staunton Street that was showing the match. A very well-dressed gentleman greeted us by the door and asked how many was in our little group. I said “3” and so he said without hesitation, “There are seats inside near the bar” … “GREAT!” I thought. So we made our way through the crowd and to our dismay, when we reached the bar, a very polite female server regrettably said to us “there aren’t any seats left”. I looked around the tables, sure enough most of the patrons had already been working half-way through their drinks, so they must’ve been sitting there for a while. Maybe the gentleman by the door (whom I’m assuming is the owner of The Spot Bar … great name by the way, and yes I’m being sarcastic) thought there were seats left.

“Oh its okay, we’ll stand”, I replied to the lady.

After tending to her tasks, the lady came back and said “Sir, are you sure you want to be standing here? You’re standing right next to the bathrooms” … She’s right. No I don’t want to be standing next to toilets.

So as we’re making our way out the bar, the same gentleman said to us “We also have a bar down the slope, also showing French Opens and there are seats”. I’m sold. What a good salesman. He said the 3 things I want to hear most in one line:

  1. Bar (close by)
  2. French Opens
  3. Seats available

He even offered to walk us down! What incredible service! So we followed him around the corner and he showed us into this bar called the “Hidden Vine” (next to Archie B’s and Taco Laco) and as we walked inside … it looked nothing like a sports bar! What worse is there isn’t even a TV in there!

I asked the manager at the Hidden Vine whether they’re showing the French Opens and she sounded very confused. We stormed off and the same guy who showed us the place had brought 3 more victims (Caucasian kids … I’ll bet they’re also there for the match).

Then I said some not-very-nice things to his face (he pouted and shrugged and gave me that “Hey, you fell for the trick … its not my fault you’re retarded” kind of message), I warned the kids about this scam artist, made a scene and I left.

Seriously, I understand business owners trying to make a buck or sth, but is this guy stupid? (Well, he’s not, he’s very smart). But still … prick.

Boycott THE SPOT BAR.

Unfortunately for him, he just messed with a *ahem* famous local food blogger.

Okay, in all seriousness … how can you trust anything (from food to booze) and even the bill you pay from a guy like this? Is he going to use food that has already expired? Is he going to use fake Shenzhen alcohol and serve it as the real deal? Is he going to charge you slightly more on the bill and hope that you won’t notice? I’ll leave that for you to decide.

Siu Yeh Rating: -100. First negative rating ever on this blog and likely to be the only one.

Fool me once … and SHAME ON YOU!!!

Soho Place (聚豪坊) on Caine Road

July 14, 2009 Edit: This restaurant is open for business again.

This new restaurant I’m about to talk about is one you’ll never be able to try (i.e. no amount of money will you get you a seat here) … because I think they closed down already … effectively making this the most pointless entry ever. Soho Place opened its doors to the public about a month ago … operated for about a week and was closed for the last 3.

The renovation and everything is pretty nice too (not great), but imagine throwing that kind of money into rent, renovation, kitchen equipments, utensils, staff, uniform and countless other things … only to try out for 1 week? Hmm … I wonder what the problem is. So, as the professional food blogger that I am … I will call to ask what’s up and to send my regards (another real time blogging here).

Wow. Their number wouldn’t even connect.

Anyway, during that one week that they were operating (maybe for trial?), I did manage to squeeze a Sunday lunch there. When we got there at 12PM, we were one of the first tables … but when we left at 1:30PM, I’d say 14 of the 19 tables were filled. So it remains a mystery why they place is closed if they’re doing well. But maybe on Sunday businesses are good … from Monday to Friday, I don’t think anyone would eat there.

The manager prides himself in the fact that Soho Place is the only Chinese restaurant on Caine Road (ever since Tai Woo 太湖 Seafood Restaurant on Castle Road closed its doors a couple months ago). Err .. I guess now we know why?

So here’s the menu at Soho Place.

Menu at Soho Place (聚豪坊)

Menu at Soho Place (聚豪坊)

And here’s what we had: Salt and Pepper Squid, which was pretty good.

Salt & Pepper Squid

Salt & Pepper Squid

Umm, I don’t remember ordering shark’s fin and I don’t think this was. It was pretty much the same kind of broth / soup but without the shark’s fin, which for environmental and ethical reasons, I really enjoyed. When we drink shark’s fin soup, its really the soup anyway 🙂

Shark's Fin Soup? I forgot ... I doubt it was though!

Shark's Fin Soup? I forgot ... I doubt it was though!

This spring roll was also pretty good (looks like their fried stuff is not bad). The shrimp is fresh and the amount is pretty generous … I mean the whole spring roll was like eating shrimp dumplings but the outside is crunchy. Definitely an A for this dish.

Shrimp Spring Rolls

Shrimp Spring Rolls

They had 菜螃蟹 (egg white and crab meat) on the menu, which I thought was pretty odd considering I saw somewhere that this place is a Cantonese restaurant. So what’s a Shanghainese dish doing here? Well, the manager claims that they intend to include dishes from most popular Chinese cuisine into their menu … eventually (but I guess never is more appropriate now).

This dish was so-so. I can only take the egg white … I don’t think I can taste the crab meat at all.

菜螃蟹 ... in a Cantonese Restaurant?

菜螃蟹 ... in a Cantonese Restaurant?

Yeh … maybe you didn’t miss that much.

But this is the fastest I’ve ever seen a restaurant fold. Or maybe business was so good the first week, they’ve decided to take a break.

Soho Place (聚豪坊)
Shop A-D, G/F., On Fung Bldg.
110-118 Caine Road, Mid-levels
Central, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 3968 0328
Fax: +852 3968 0327

Chinese Pudding (砵仔糕) in Soho

If you happen to walk past the intersection of Staunton Street and Shelley Street (the escalators leading up to Mid-levels) from around 2:30 to 5:00PM on Saturdays and Sundays, you might be able to catch a granny selling Chinese pudding (砵仔糕) with her husband (he’s seen here walking back to the cart after finishing his banana). From what I hear (and seen), the hard-working pair has been around the area for quite a long time now, and they’re still doing what they do best: making delicious puddings for people in the neighbourhood.

Its really quite impressive that they’re able to keep up at their age. But I suppose what matters is they’re happy and it looks like they love what they do. Besides, they have a huge following … and you’ll probably have a hard time looking for Chinese puddings anywhere in Hong Kong nowadays, so next time you’re fortunate enough to catch them, try one! They’re second to none; definitely try the red bean flavor 🙂

Edit: Thanks to my little sister for correcting me. She said “those chinese pudding in soho are all in red bean flavour. The only difference is the brown one is made of brown sugar and white one, white sugar. Brown ones are usually more popular (coz it seems to be healthier than white sugar?)”

Granny Selling Chinese Pudding in Soho

Granny Selling Chinese Pudding in Soho

Note: Photo taken with iPhone.

Chinese Pudding (砵仔糕) in Soho
Intersection of Staunton Street and Shelley Street
Soho, Central
Hong Kong

Magushi on Peel Street

Yakitori restaurants have been around for a very long time, but they continue to pop up in drove. Just recently, another one called Magushi opened on Peel Street in Soho so I thought I’d try it with my brother. Its about a 5 minute walk so I had greeted the folks at the restaurant in my semi PJ’s (街坊裝) … I couldn’t care less about my appearance, I was there for the food! FEED ME!

Let’s get right down to business. We got the ox tongue, chicken wings, meatballs made from lamb, beefballs, and Angus beef yakitoris. They were all very good, but if I can choose again, I’d get all ox tongue and chicken wings yakitoris! They were great 🙂

Apparently the restaurant was established by a group of 8 (or so) friends who share similar passion in sake (Japanese rice wine), which explains why they have such an extensive list of sakes to choose from ranging anywhere from HKD 180 to HKD 3,000 per bottle. What better to go with alcohol than fried / grilled food?

Magushi
G/F., 74 Peel Street,
Central, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2868 1428
Email: info@magushi.com